When a foreign placename occurs in Chinese text, the problem arises of spelling it in Chinese characters, given the limited phonetics of Mandarin Chinese, and the possible meaning of those characters when treated as Chinese words. For example:
"London Heathrow Airport" is usually rendered in Chinese text as 倫敦希斯路機場 (Lúndūn Xīsīlù Jīchǎng), with the English pronunciation of 'London' fairly accurate, and of 'Heathrow' less accurate: literally as Chinese this means "kinship, honest" (for London), "hope/rare, given/this, road" (for Heathrow), "aircraft, field", with the last syllable of "Heathrow" rendered as "lu" although the more accurate "lo" and "lou" are known Chinese words. However, the Cantonese pronunciation of 希斯路 (Hei1si1lou6) is much closer to "Heathrow".
Names of foreign nations are sometimes shortened to their first character when used in compounds.
For placenames in Korea or Japan, the Chinese exonym is often the Chinese pronunciation of the hanja or kanji writing of the placename. In some cases, especially in Japan, the Chinese pronunciation may be completely unlike the native-language pronunciation.
Seoul (Korean 서울) had no official hanja until 2005, until which 漢城 (Chinese Hànchéng, Korean Hanseong) was widely used. Hanseong was its name during the Joseon era until 1907, although Seoul has been in use since c.1882. 漢城 is still used, both in Chinese, as a transcription for Seoul, and Korean, as an unofficial transcription and as a separate toponym.